Jamie Grossman’s Noodler’s UV Torture Test

Jamie Grossman is the wonderful blogger behind Hudson Valley Sketches, and she’s well known in the mixed media/watercolor community as well as for her oil and acrylic paintings of the Hudson River and surroundings at her Hudson Valley Painter website. She started doing some interesting UV lightfastness tests with random fountain pen inks that she has. After seeing her tests I thought it was really interesting to see which inks held up to the abuse, and which ones didn’t! Noodler’s has a whole line of inks that rated as eternal, which tout UV-resistance. Now, these inks aren’t UV-proof, just resistant, and I was curious to know just how much. I approached Jamie about supplying her with the inks in exchange for her work of doing the testing for all 32 of the Noodler’s inks I have that tout UV resistance. 

Jamie will be updating and sharing her findings on her blog, and we’re even planning to have her on Write Time to talk about all of the cool stuff she does and this Noodler’s UV test (official date pending). There’s really no reason for us doing this test other than mere curiosity and the sake of conversation in our respective communities, so join us as we discover how these inks fare.

Here is Jamie’s post from her blog, I will be reposing her results as she updates her blog:

Brian contacted me regarding some lightfastness testing I’ve been doing on a number of inks. So far I’ve tested 39 fountain pen inks. (If you haven’t seen those results, you can click here and then keep scrolling down to see them all.) Whether or not lightfastness is an important issue is a decision you need to make for yourself, and your particular applications. Having the information available is always a good thing, and it gives us one more factor to consider when choosing an ink for a specific job.

In the interest of providing information to his customers, Brian suggested a collaborative venture to test all of the Noodler’s Eternal inks, and have those results available on Inknouveau. Although some of my previous testing did include some of these inks, having them all done together at the same time, and available here, will be a good resource for those times when some UV resistance is important. The line of Noodler’s Eternal Inks includes the following:

  • Noodler’s Bad Black Moccasin
  • Noodler’s Black
  • Noodler’s Blackerase Waterase
  • Noodler’s El Lawrence
  • Noodler’s Heart of Darkness
  • Noodler’s Polar Black
  • Noodler’s X-Feather
  • Noodler’s Lexington Gray
  • Noodler’s Whiteness of the Whale
  • Noodler’s Blue Ghost
  • Noodler’s Bad Belted Kingfisher
  • Noodler’s Bad Blue Heron
  • Noodler’s Luxury Blue
  • Noodler’s Periwinkle
  • Noodler’s Polar Blue
  • Noodler’s Bad Green Gator
  • Noodler’s Hunter Green
  • Noodler’s Polar Green
  • Noodler’s Dostoyevsky
  • Noodler’s Year of the Golden Pig
  • Noodler’s Empire Red
  • Noodler’s Fox
  • Noodler’s Rachmaninoff
  • Noodler’s Socrates
  • Noodler’s Tchaikovsky
  • Noodler’s Kung Te-Cheng
  • Noodler’s La Reine Mauve
  • Noodler’s Mata Hari’s Cordial
  • Noodler’s Pasternak
  • Noodler’s #41 Brown (2012)
  • Noodler’s Polar Brown
  • Noodler’s Whaleman’s Sepia

I selected a Stillman & Birn Alpha 7×10″ Wirebound book as my paper to do the tests. It’s nicely sized, acid free, archival, heavy weight, doesn’t have too much tooth, and is a clean bright white. Brian sent the 32 ink samples to me, and I got busy making swabs, crosshatches and washes to test in my studio window.

The ink samples were sorted by color group according to where Brian placed them in the Goulet Swab Shop, then by alphabetical order within that group. All writing was done with a glass dip pen (including the crosshatched sections), which was washed and dried between samples. Artists who use fountain pens are often interested in knowing how much an ink’s lines will wash with a water-filled brush after the ink is dry, so I washed a portion of the crosshatched sections with a wet brush. That also spread the ink thinner, providing additional information as the UV light interacts with the ink. Here are the prepared pages. You can click on any image for a larger, clearer version:

Black, Gray, White, Clear (Blue Ghost):

(My apologies for some ghosting on a couple of these images, due to the next page showing through a bit. I didn’t realize that was happening until I was adjusting the images, and it’s not too relevant at this stage in the process.)

Greens, Turquoise, Yellow:

Red, Pink, Magenta:



The pages were then cut down the centers vertically, so that the name of the ink and half of each swatch is on each side. The right sides of the pages will go in my south-facing studio window. The left sides will remain in the closed, wirebound book, where they will be in total darkness. Here they are, all set to go:

Most fountain pen inks are more fugitive than you’d think. That may not matter if whatever you write will not be exposed to UV light in its application, but it is certainly a reason to keep all of your inks stored in darkness.  Even colors in artists’ paints that fade very quickly, like genuine alizarin crimson, take many times longer to show signs of change than inks. Some inks start fading in just a matter of days. Others take six months or more. I’ll be able to post some preliminary results in about a month, so stay tuned! 

2017-10-11T14:38:08+00:00 February 3rd, 2012|Ink Reviews|17 Comments
  • Penemuel

    Definitely interested in the results – thanks for sharing this!

  • Freddy

    Although I only use my inks for writing letters to friends, I am really looking forward to seeing the results of this test.  Ink Nouveau/The Goulet Pen Co. and Hudson Valley Sketches are adding valuable information to the fountain pen world, whether used for writing, art, or both.  Thank you.

  • Sure thing! I think it's a cool test too, I'm eager to see how it turns out.

  • Thank you! I have a lot of respect for Jamie and what she does with her blog, hence the collaboration. She's exposed me to a lot of different ways to use fountain pen inks, beyond just writing with a pen!

  • Melinda

    I'm a bit confused. Which swab was exposed to the UV light? There are two swabs above the crosshatch. I'm assuming one swab and one side (the name of the ink) was done before the UV exposure, and the others were added after the exposure. Am I right? 

  • Melinda, I'm sorry for the confusion. The upper swab is a double swipe with the Q tip. The lower, lighter swab is a single swipe. That is a way to test what role the thickness of the application plays in the UV resistance of the ink.

  • Oh, one other thing….This post is about the way I set up the tests. There are no photos of results posted at this time. I will give some verbal, preliminary results on Write Time at 9. Photos of the results will be posted in a week or two. That's a lot of work and will take some time.

  • Melinda

    Ah, gotcha! Thanks for taking the time to respond to my comment. I look forward to seeing the results.

  • jandrese

    This is interesting, and the ink variety is admirable, but this is not a controlled experiment using UV light. Glass blocks much of "long" wavelength UVA, and almost all of the more damaging UVB and UVC. Sunlight is, of course, multi-wavelength, and glass is a filter, as is the atmosphere. Latitude actually greatly affects the amount of UV reaching the surface, as does the change in seasons. Anyway, inspired by this, I placed ink samples of several colors from several manufacturers under a strong germicidal UV light for 30 hours. While none of the inks visibly faded, the paper suffered badly, turning an ugly yellow. Even the texture changed. I guess, for most people, for most uses, fountain pen ink is more UV resistant than the paper it is printed on.    

  • It's true, this isn't truly a scientific experiment, more of a practical one. I think most of the UV exposure that our paper would be going through would be by a sunlit window. Still, I appreciate your thoroughness! You're right though, paper is a huge factor too. What kind of paper did you use? 

  • jandrese

    I used Staples bagasse, which is great for fountain pen ink. Not so good for extreme UV exposure though. The lines on the paper faded out even. Don't take bagasse into the tanning salon and things should be fine. I'm looking forward to the results from the sunlight fading test, which is certainly more real-world than what I tried!

  • Now I know not to go journaling in the tanning booth! 😉 

  • Radellaf

    I did some similar tests with Canon inkjet inks, since photos are often hung (usually with glass between them and the sun) in bright environments. Even non-UV wavelengths can fade some dyes like highlighter pens. 

    Greg Clark did tests for all the inks in his sampler as well. Useful info. I'd be interested in updated info for all the inks, but it is a lot of work to test.

  • Amber

    If you want to do this again, but in the strong Nevada sun, I'm happy to put them in the bright light.  I have windows getting direct sun and windows getting light but no direct sun.  Amber@SheIsMyLawyer.com

  • Amber

    I agree about the not "scientific" but when you consider what sort of light you might have in the office…. I've found that when I've been writing and then left the papers out for a day in the direct light of the window (here in Nevada), I can no longer read what I have written.  Hence, my decision to change to Noodler's. 

  • I appreciate the link! The work Greg did is pretty intense, I know I don't have anywhere near that time to devote to it. 

  • I appreciate the offer.